Humana Opens The Door To Massive Influx Of Patient-Generated Data

Here’s a deal that could have a greater impact than it might appear upon first glance. Humana has cut a deal with a vendor allowing members to share data from a very wide range of devices and apps with its wellness division.

Working with personal health data platform Validic, Humana will allow members to connect hundreds of patient-facing connected technologies, including wearables, health apps, and in-home medical devices. The new effort is being run by the health plan’s Go365 wellness and rewards program.

Humana eventually expects to expand the devices and data points Go365 connects with to address a wider range of wellness challenges such as nutrition, smoking cessation and mental health concerns.

According to a statement released by Humana, it makes more sense for patients to leverage their own tools for data collection rather than relying on traditional medical devices or software. This approach allows members to engage with Go365 regardless of the type of app or device, technology skills or the ability to pay for high-end solutions.

Now, I’m not one to say “hey, this company’s awesome” or to be lured in by the use of a few buzzwords, but at first glance, I’m excited by what I’m seeing here. The idea of allowing every possible patient to connect up their device or app of choices makes a lot of sense.

To be sure, the mere fact of Humana’s hooking up a bunch of patient data-generating devices to the Validic platform isn’t a showstopper in and of itself. The idea of making it easier for scores of patients to share personal health data with Go365 is interesting, but without more detail on how the health plan will make it relevant and usable, call me skeptical that it will add much value.

That being said, I think Humana execs are onto something they argue that having consumers bring their own devices to the game could be powerful, as it’s inherently empowering for them. Not only that, it helps to foster the development of a big data store with few parallels out there today. Plus, these connections will become more powerful as consumer health devices collect more medically relevant data.

This should ultimately offer huge benefits. Even given the massive problems providers still face in collecting, normalizing and analyzing consumer health data, they will be resolved eventually and having such a rich, evolving data stream will be immeasurably valuable at some point in the future.

Also, it strikes me as potentially being a big deal if Humana begins to track variables outside of the vital signs arena such as nutrition and smoking status. Yes, PCPs may already gather some of this data, but to my knowledge, it’s not generally integrated with traditional data points collected in this context.

All told, we’re looking at what could be an influential strategy for managing patient-generated health data. If healthcare organizations start from the premise that both PGHD and social determinants information are worth collecting into a single database, it could have a transformative effect. Exactly what form this effect will take is up for grabs, but it seems to me that these changes will be positive ones.

About the author

Anne Zieger

Anne Zieger

Anne Zieger is a healthcare journalist who has written about the industry for 30 years. Her work has appeared in all of the leading healthcare industry publications, and she's served as editor in chief of several healthcare B2B sites.